Union-organized workplaces consistently afford workers higher wages and better pensions, benefits, and health coverage than their nonunion counterparts. In addition, women and minorities who belong to unions are more likely to receive higher wages and benefits than their nonunion peers. Given the economic advantages of union membership, one might expect to see higher rates of organization across industries, but labor affiliation is at an all-time low. What accounts for this discrepancy?
The contributors in this volume provide a variety of perspectives on this paradox, including discussions of approaches to and findings on the histories, cultures, and practices of organized labor. They also address substantive issues such as race, class, gender, age, generation, ethnicity, health and safety concerns, corporate co-optation of unions, and the cultural context of union-management relationships.
The first to bring together anthropological case studies of labor unions, this volume will appeal to cultural anthropologists, social scientists, sociologists, and those interested in labor studies and labor movements.
The Social Life of Politics examines the intimate, personal, and family dimensions of two political activist groups: the Union of National Civil Servants (UPCN) and the Association of State Workers (ATE). These two unions represent distinct political orientations within Argentina's broad, vibrant labor movement: the UPCN identifies as predominantly Peronist, disciplined, and supportive of incumbent government, while the ATE prides itself on its democratic, horizontal approach and relative autonomy from the electoral process. Sian Lazar examines how activists in both unions create themselves as particular kinds of militants and forms of political community. The Social Life of Politics places the lived experience of political activism into historical relief and shows how ethics and family values deeply inform the process by which political actors are formed, understood, and joined together through collectivism.
The second half of the book presents an analytical study of differing union political theories and attitudes against the modern industrial background. Here the Marxist case is studied in depth and contrasted with the views of the Social Democrats. The author then considers the ownership and control of the economy, industrial relations, prices and incomes and inflation, making it clear where he feels the movement should stand on the key political issues of today. Finally, the book suggests the way in which the Labour Party and the trade unions should organise for power in the country.